A further two sessions of 4e this weekend brings my total number of sessions played to 7. Most of the players are now exploring the wonders of 2nd level.
Various events on the weekend hurt the number of players that could attend – only 4 on Friday (of 6) and 3 on Sunday (of 6). Incredibly, the games survived and were even fun. I’m not sure that Sunday’s game could have happened with a previous edition. Thank Wizards for the easy scaling of encounters, and the fact the PCs can survive without all the roles.
In fact, the Sunday game had possibly three of the best classes together for it: a Paladin, a Warlord and a Warlock. On Friday, we got to see the Cleric in action for the first time… and, boy, he was effective. Bradford really enjoyed playing him, and there’s no doubt that the 4e cleric is the best version of the class so far. Healing, combat effectiveness & buffing… and without sacrificing “fun” combat actions to help the other party members.
Friday’s Game – The Mouths of Madness
The group (Martin the Rogue, Adam the Warlock and Rich the Fighter) continued their exploration of the Mouths of Madness, the first part of the Castle Zagyg adventure by Gary Gygax. They were looking for a couple of prisoners taken by the humanoids of the caves. First they needed to rescue Bradford’s cleric from an attack by three stirges… his cleric (of Trithereon) and foolishly come to the caves on his own. That was accomplished, and they invited the worthy dwarven cleric to accompany them further – being a cleric of Trithereon, he was only too happy to engage in the rescue of slaves.
They entered the kobold caves and soon were in a bunch of running skirmishes against the kobolds, with most of the action being around a pit trap. Groups of four kobolds would run around a corner, throw some javelins, then run back. Without Peggy’s wizard, the group didn’t have any area attacks to get rid of the minions, and they were taking significant damage. Further damage accrued when Rich, Martin and Adam tried leaping the pit… with only Rich succeeding. Sure, Adam had a -1 to his chances and so was very likely to fail, but Martin only had a 1 in 10 chance of failing. But, he rolled on the mat and fell into the pit. Acrobatics saved him from taking the full 10 damage, though.
The kobolds had a goblin prisoner, who informed them that the bugbears on the north side of the bluff had been taking human prisoners. Well, that was something.
A secret door from the kobold lair led to an Ogre’s cave. I’d statted up “Charlie” the Ogre as a solo 4th level brute. 260 hp or so. For some reason, the group attacked. With two strikers, they actually were pretty effective. Rich’s fighter attracted the Ogre’s attention, Bradford’s cleric kept Rich on his feet (as well as hurting the ogre), and Martin finally got to be a real striker rogue, dealing 1d6+2d8+3 damage an attack (or thereabouts). Effective.
Mind you, Rich almost died – I hit him with one blow that took him to within 1 hp of instant death! Bradford was able to get him up again, though.
We had about 5 combats in 3.5 hours. A pretty effective session, although the treasure wasn’t as good as it could have been.
Sunday’s Game – Keep on the Shadowfell (session 4)
Only Sarah (Warlord), Greg (Paladin) and Nathaniel (Warlock) could make the game, but they continued exploring the keep’s dungeons nonetheless. Quick scaling of the number of monsters down kept everything well within their ability to handle. In fact, I almost feel I didn’t need to scale things at all: they were doing really, really well.
Their first business of the day was rescuing Splug. Splug is a goblin who has been imprisoned by his tribe, and he’s there to provide the DM with some fun roleplaying material. And, oh boy, did I use him. He began as a typical goblin – cowardly, whining, and doing anything he could to have the party not kill him. He (ineffectively) helped the party during fights by throwing rocks (that missed) and cowering behind Nathaniel.
Then, during the fight against the goblin chief, he got sick of the insults the goblins were calling out at him and charged a goblin… and rolled a critical hit! He’s now popular enough with the players that they want me to stat him up as a proper NPC who will gain XP and suchlike. He’s going to be great fun.
With Splug’s aid, the PCs wiped out the rest of the goblins on the upper level, and then proceeded further into the dungeon, to an area with zombies and a lot of winding corridors. I don’t think this quite works as well as it should… zombies are dumb. They just attack in melee. This set-up would have been so much more fun with skirmishers or snipers. Instead, I spent a lot of time drawing up the corridors and they really weren’t used much.
We only got in 3 combats in about 3 or so hours of play, but that’s ok. There was a bunch of fun roleplaying with Splug. Still a bunch of this adventure to play. 3 or 4 more sessions? Quite possibly. I think that’s good value for money.